If you’re reading this, you’re aware that I’m a reporter and photographer for this paper, but you may not know I’m also a volunteer with Junction City Fire Department. That meant I was able to get the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 this year.
I got my first dose on Jan. 8, which was a sort of non-event because aside from a slightly sore shoulder, I didn’t experience much change. However, while talking with other firefighters at our Wednesday training, I was informed that the second dose might be a bit more intense.
Being a mostly healthy guy in my early 50s who doesn’t drink, smoke or indulge, I figured I would skate through the second one and continue masking up and keeping my distance.
I got my second shot at noon Friday and by about 5 p.m., I was starting to feel a little sore. It was similar to the onset of flu, causing a dull ache in my joints and lower back. Hour by hour, it got a little more pronounced, moving to my hands feet and neck. Keep in mind, it was by no means excruciating, just a dull ache pretty much everywhere.
By 9:30 p.m., my fingers were so sore I had some trouble getting my car’s gas cap off. I drove home feeling about 50 percent heavier than myself, yawning frequently.
My fiancee tried to get me to take some ibuprofen before I went to bed, but I poo-pooed it, figuring I was tired enough to just zonk out. At about 10:30, I did.
By about 1:30 a.m., I was wide awake and shivering. A quick trip to the bathroom sent a chill through me, but I was able to curl up in a ball in bed to stay warm and fend off the shakes. I wasn’t unbearably cold, and it was hard to lay on my right shoulder, which had become quite sore. I fell asleep again and the next time I woke, I figured I had been out for several hours. I looked out my east window for any hint of sunrise but saw black. I grabbed my phone and looked at its clock — 2 a.m., How could that be? It felt like I’d been out all night.
Still shivering, I walked around for a bit and crawled back in bed. At this point, I was also sweating and had an awful kink in my neck. I got as comfortable as I could and faded into a dream where I was installing a Corvette engine in a BMW 635csi when I woke to nature’s call. Still seeing no sunrise in the east, I picked up my phone. 2:40 a.m.? Really? Come on...
Sighing loudly, got up and took two ibuprofen.
I woke up again at 3:45, unable to get comfortable but could feel the ibuprofen kicking in. By 4 a.m., I knew I’d be unable to sleep and decided to just get up and write what you just read.
By 4:45 a.m., I was feeling better overall. I had moderate flu-like soreness, headache and sweating, but that’s about it. For the rest of the day, my energy was very low and I was able to keep my headache bearable with Ibuprofen. By Sunday, I was back to midline.
My fiancee, also a JCFD volunteer, got hers the following day and, for the most part, her symptoms followed the same timeline.
Now, I’m not telling you all this to scare you away from getting the vaccine. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I want you to know what you’re in for so you can be ready.
Be prepared to call in sick or late for work and try to make yourself comfortable. For me, the worst of it only lasted a few hours and was much less severe than a case of the flu. As always, your results may vary.
Keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control advises against taking Advil or Tylenol before getting the vaccine but say talk to your doctor about using it for symptoms caused by the vaccine. Always consult with your health care provider if you have concerns about the vaccine’s interactions with medication.
Nonetheless, for me, it’s all worth it. The fever, the chills, the insomnia were all indications my body was mounting a defense against COVID-19, which has been on my mind for almost a year now. It’s a great relief to know that not only will my family have this extra level of protection, so will the people we help through the fire department. That’s huge.
I hope you’ll go to myturn.ca.gov and sign up for your vaccine shots. When vaccines become available, you’ll be contacted to set up an appointment.